The need to think about the history of the United States in the context of a global history of settler colonialism seems obvious, but to do so poses challenging questions to public and scholarly narratives of national history alike. The United States, not uniquely but nevertheless importantly, is at once a settler society and a postcolonial one. The particular circumstances of the founding of the republic bestowed on the historical self-understanding of the nation several governing ideas and tropes, not the least of which has been a tendency to narrate national history as that of not only a colonial but a colonized people, resisting the reach of an imperial central state. There is a basic paradox here that has been widely noted: the particular ideological grounds on which the United States constitutes itself as a nation are taken to be anti-imperial but are actually very amenable to projects of empire. But there is a deeper paradox, closely related to the first, that scholars are only now starting to appreciate in light of the centrality of settler colonialism and settler concepts of liberty to early modern Atlantic and early American history, and that is that the first paradox mentioned earlier is not really a paradox. It was precisely the radically democratic aspects of revolutionary republicanism that proved to be inherently exclusionary and foundational to the extension of United States sovereignty over the North American continent. The populist economic and political promise of the movements that put presidents Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson in the White House, from 1801-1809 and 1829-1837, respectively, was predicated on removal of Native title and the forced removal of Natives themselves. Just as importantly, the arguments, assumptions and practices that were appropriate to the settler basis of republican empire created a powerful historical vision that in many respects continues in force today. The peculiar ideological potency and long life of settler colonialism and settler liberty in the political history of the United States rests on a series of elisions of settler colonialism from constructed images of the past. Settler colonialism matters to any understanding of the history of the United States simply because, in the American context, settler colonialism has worked by allowing the predominant settler population to not recognize itself as one.